Where they stand: Fatal flaw in the Chiefs defense?

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Philip Rivers
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Philip Rivers /

The Kansas City Defense is vulnerable. As camp opens, they have to find a way to fix it.

We already covered the extremely young secondary, particularly at cornerback. With the collapse of the contract talks with Eric Berry and the passing of the deadline, that issue is growing more troubling. If Berry were not to report to camp, things could get hairy really fast.

That’s not the biggest problem going into camp, however. Its overshadowing something more dire.

This week on the Check with Me podcast with AA’s own Chris Clark, we hit the core repercussions of the Berry situation, both now and in the future. Here’s the show:

Bringing the Heat

While the secondary’s experience is a concern, the Chiefs are low on answers for another position. In fact, the only aspect of the defense that could compensate for the question on the backend of the defense is the pass rush. It will have to be effective in order to protect the youngsters in the back of the defense.

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Justin Houston is likely to miss up to the first half of the season. Tamba Hali had yet another off-season knee surgery and may have trouble playing anywhere close to the same number of snaps he played in 2015. Whatever snaps Hali can play, the key will be how successful he can be getting to the quarterback. He hasn’t had more than 6.5 sacks in a season since 2013. That puts pressure on young No. 55.

Can Dee Ford make that next step and become a productive pass rusher in 2016?

Ford was more stout against the run in 2015. That is a positive sign that he can hold down the OLB duties while Houston is sidelined. His pass rush is a different story. Outside of one 2015 game where he faced backups, it hasn’t clicked for Ford yet. Overall, his progress to this point in his career has been steady but slow. Expecting a jump in his skills and production in 2016 is a reach the team would be smart not to bank on.

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 30: South team's line backer Dadi Nicolas
MOBILE, AL – JANUARY 30: South team’s line backer Dadi Nicolas /

If not Dee Ford, who can Bob Sutton turn to to pressure the opposing quarterbacks? Frank Zombo and Dezman Moses have both played the position, but neither can be considered a true pass rusher. Journeymen Jonathon Massaquoi and Andy Mulumba may get a chance to show something during camp, but effective pass rushers are never considered journeymen.

There is one longshot player that the Chiefs staff has to invest in. Taken in the sixth round, Dadi Nicolas has some tools to get to quarterbacks. Long and quick, Nicolas didn’t rely on his speed rush in college. He has shown a small but effective toolbox of pass rush moves and counters.

Can Nicolas contribute as a pass rusher for the Chiefs? They are likely to give him every chance to do just that. Along with Dee Ford, they need him to.

Will this defense get beat up with the current group of pass rushers? We’ll see, Addicts?